Examining visual skills to improve reading achievement

Drs. Valadez & Spaniol

While a lot of studies have examined correlations between opthomology and athletic performance, little research has addressed the relationship between visual skills and reading abilities. This study investigates whether improving students' visual skills can prevent gaps in achievement.


Investigator
Dr. Corinne Valadez, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Learning Sciences
Dr. Frank Spaniol, Department of Kinesiology

Total Award
n/a

Project Period
In progress

Research Method
Qualitative/Correlational Study

Description
More than half a century of research has established a strong correlation between those who learn to read early and easily and later academic success. However, according to the U.S. Department of Education (2015), despite progress in recent years, fourth-grade students enrolled in Texas public schools had an average reading score of 218, lagging behind the national average of 221. The numbers are even lower for students of color. In Texas, the average reading scores of black students was 205 and Hispanic students was 210, whereas white students averaged 230. The findings are all the more troubling given that more is known about teaching reading effectively than ever before.

 

 

One reason some children struggle with reading is their inability to visually attend to reading. In a study by Solan et al. (2003), vision therapy was found to have significantly increase the mean standard attention and reading comprehension scores of sixth grade students with moderate reading disabilities. Lawton (2007) found significant improvements in reading performance following training on direction discrimination in second and third grade students.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between visual processing skills and reading comprehension scores of third through fifth grade students. Visual processing ability was assessed by Vizual Edge Performance Trainer (VEPT), a commercial software program designed to assess eye alignment, depth perception, convergence, divergence, visual recognition, and visual tracking. Reading comprehension was determined by Gates- MacGinitie designed to assess vocabulary and comprehension.

Data was analyzed using Pearson product-moment correlation to determine the strength of linear relationships between visual processing abilities and reading comprehension. A correlation matrix was utilized to determine correlation coefficients for all variables. A probability value of .05 was used to determine significance.